Sunday, December 05, 2010

12.5.10 - Updated Golf Scores and Composite Rankings

Here are the updated Golf Scores through the results of 12.4.10:

Team Offense Defense Reb Diff Golf Score
Orlando 11 3 2 16
LAL 1 11 7 19
Miami 4 2 14 20
San Antonio 3 8 10 21
Boston 7 1 13 21
Dallas 13 5 11 29
Chicago 20 9 5 34
Indiana 19 7 12 38
New Orleans 18 4 17 39
Toronto 17 22 3 42
Denver 5 15 23 43
Utah 9 10 24 43
Atlanta 10 14 21 45
Oklahoma City 12 18 16 46
New York 8 20 22 50
Phoenix 2 30 30 62

And here are the updated composite rankings:

Team Golf Score Win % Expected Win % Point Diff. Eff. Diff. Sagarin Hollinger SRS Composite Average
San Antonio 4 1 5 3 1 1 2 3 2.5
Boston 5 2.5 4 4 2 3 1 2 2.94
LAL 2 6 2 1 3 8 4 4 3.75
Orlando 1 4 3 5 4 4 6 6 4.13
Miami 3 10.5 1 2 5 7 5 1 4.31
Dallas 6 2.5 6 6 6 2 3 5 4.56
Utah 12 5 7 7 8 5 7 7 7.25
New Orleans 9 7 9 8 7 6 8 8 7.75
Denver 11 8 10 9 11 9 9 9 9.5
Chicago 7 13 14 13 9 10 10 11 10.88
Atlanta 13 10.5 8 10 10 12 12 12 10.94
Indiana 8 15 12 11 12 14 11 10 11.63
Oklahoma City 14 9 13 14 14 11 13 13 12.63
New York 15 12 11 12 13 16 14 19 14
Toronto 10 16 17 15 22 18 16 16 16.25
Phoenix 16 14 20 19 17 13 17 14 16.25

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Golf" Scores and Other Assorted 2010-2011 Team Rankings

For several years now, I have posted about "golf scores" over at LMF.  Basically, I track where the playoff teams rank in three essential categories:  offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, and rebounding differential.  I add those three rankings to come up with a "golf score" for each playoff team.  For the 2010-2011 season thus far, here are the numbers:

Team Offense Defense Reb Diff Golf Score
Orlando 8 4 2 14
San Antonio 2 8 8 18
LAL 1 11 7 19
Boston 6 3 15 24
New Orleans 15 1 13 29
Dallas 11 6 12 29
Chicago 21 9 1 31
Miami 5 7 20 32
Indiana 18 5 10 33
Atlanta 4 18 19 41
Oklahoma City 7 20 16 43
Portland 13 17 17 47
Denver 10 13 26 49
Utah 12 10 28 50
New York 9 22 23 54
Cleveland 28 16 22 66

The sample size is still too small to draw too many conclusions about how things will end up, but it's encouraging to see Dallas doing so well defensively.  We'll see, but it doesn't appear to be a fluke to me as I watch the games.

There has been some discussion over the years about how the "golf score" compares to other rankings, either as a predictor of future success or as an accurate ranking of how teams currently stack up.  Just for the heck of it, I thought I'd put together a table that compared it with other well-known rankings (if you see any that I left out that you'd like me to include, let me know and I'll put into the next update that I do).  Also, I've included a composite average of all of the various rankings so that you can see how the Mavs stack up in that respect as well:

Team Golf Score Win % Expected Win % Point Diff. Eff. Diff. Sagarin Hollinger SRS Composite Average
LAL 3 2 1 1 1 4 1 2 1.88
San Antonio 2 1 5 2 3 1 3 1 2.25
Boston 4 4.5 3 3 4 5 2 3 3.56
Orlando 1 4.5 4 4 5 9 8 7 5.31
New Orleans 5 4.5 7 6 6 2 6 6 5.31
Dallas 6 4.5 6 7 7 3 4 5 5.31
Miami 8 13 2 5 2 10 9 4 6.63
Chicago 7 10.5 10 9 8 7 5 11 8.44
Utah 14 7 8 10 14 6 7 10 9.5
Denver 13 10.5 12 11 9 8 10 9 10.31
Indiana 9 14.5 11 8 10 13 11 8 10.56
Atlanta 10 9 9 12 11 15 14 14 11.75
Oklahoma City 11 8 15 13 13 11 12 12 11.88
Portland 12 12 18 14 12 12 13 13 13.25
New York 15 14.5 13 17 15 20 21 22 17.19
Cleveland 16 16 26 26 27 24 25 24 23

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Novel Thought: Start Your Five Best Players (And Other Assorted Ramblings)

Last night's game really left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, for a number of reasons. I won't harp on the officiating any more than I did last night online, but I agree with Erick Dampier completely. That said, what really bothered me the most (and continues to annoy me as the series progresses) is the coaching job by Rick Carlisle.

I know, a lot of people will point out that most of the Mavs played poorly in Games 2 and 3, and they will come back with the whole "What is Rick supposed to do?" defense of Carlisle's coaching performance. I agree that Caron Butler was a turnover machine, Shawn Marion couldn't make his running "push" shot to save his life, and Jason Kidd has suddenly (and inexplicably) morphed back into his 2008 counterpart that was scared to shoot the ball. Still, I'm not letting Carlisle off the hook.

My first complaint is that the team continues to get off to slow starts, despite the fact that everybody knows it is happening. In Games 2 and 3, the Mavs dug a hole and then spent a tremendous amount of energy trying to battle out of it. In fact, if the Mavs had gotten off to decent starts in those games, I think this series is 3-0, not 1-2. To me, this falls on the coach. I don't see it as a motivational problem; I see it as not understanding why you're getting behind in the first place. Caron Butler is a small forward, and he does not have the handles or skill to drive the ball against Manu Ginobili. Asking him to do so (like the Mavs did last night) results in turnovers or low-percentage shots. Asking him to handle in a screen-and-roll situation is begging for a bad pass that will be deflected or stolen. Without a second scoring threat (Kidd, Marion, and Dampier all score off of the plays created or double-teams drawn by someone else), the offense stagnates as the Spurs bump, push, grab, and hold Dirk and then swarm him when he drives. As I suggest in the title of this post, I think the solution to this matchup problem is to start your best five players, which essentially means that I would start Terry in Butler's place. Doing so would create the second scoring threat that has been lacking to start games, and it would make things easier for the non-creators (Kidd, Dampier, and Marion) to do their thing and get in position to finish plays rather than trying to create them. On the defensive end, you really don't lose anything, because Kidd can check Ginobili or Jefferson, as can Marion, with Terry moving over to cover George Hill. Then, when Butler comes in off the bench, he should be playing the SF slot, where he can more comfortably beat his man off the dribble or get an open shot. A 3 forward rotation of Dirk, Marion, and Butler should be the rule for the rest of the series. Butler should not play SG again.

My second gripe is that Carlisle gets so excited when something starts working that he doesn't realize when it isn't working any more (or when his players might need a rest). David Lord wrote an excellent piece about Carlisle running the "hot" players into the ground in Game 3, but this seems to be an ongoing pattern with Carlisle that has carried over from the regular season. I get the fact that you wouldn't want to start Butler in the second half (because he stunk in the first half), but not playing him at all? It seems to me that he could have really helped if he had been put out there at SF (Marion was playing poorly, and didn't play much at all), and no one can convince me that Kidd, Terry, and Barea didn't get gassed by playing basically the whole second half. I got frustrated as Terry missed wide open shots late, Barea couldn't get into the lane any more, and the Spurs were free to swarm Dirk, but upon further reflection I found it hard to blame the players. They were exhausted. Also, good teams adjust when you throw a gimmick at them, and eventually the Spurs did. Carlisle simply rode the horse too long, and it collapsed on him.

This series is still there for the taking. Stronger starts and decent rotations can make it happen. Here's my armchair proposal:

1. Start Terry instead of Butler.
2. Use a 3 forward rotation of Dirk, Marion and Butler. Dirk gets 40-42 minutes; Marion and Butler get to split their 56-58 minutes based upon who's playing better (roughly 28-29 mpg each).
3. Use a 4 guard rotation. Kidd gets 38 minutes; Terry gets 35 minutes or so. Give 10 minutes to Barea behind Kidd and then give the other 13 mpg or so to Beaubois or Barea, depending upon feel.
4. Start Dampier and then handle center minutes based upon who's playing better.

It's not that complicated. Make it happen, Rick. Your job may depend upon it.

UPDATE: Bayliss at LMF suggested that they start Stevenson instead of Marion to improve floor spacing, since he is a threat to hit a three-pointer. I guess that'd be okay, but it doesn't really address the need for a second creator offensively.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

My take on the Kidd trade

When word first came about the Kidd trade (last Wednesday), I have to admit that my reaction was somewhat negative. Despite that, I decided that I would sit back and contemplate what this trade meant before making up my mind about how it would impact the team. I mulled it over for quite a while, and I have to say that I am now unequivocally in favor of the deal.

First, to the negatives. Yes, Devin Harris has a lot of potential. Everyone that knows me knows that I was a big Harris supporter. I envisioned a day when he would be posting 20 ppg and 7 apg. I envisioned a day when he was an All-Star and a leader of the team. Those things may still happen for Devin in New Jersey, and I wish him well. Still, when I sat back and thought about it, I came to this realization: Devin is NOT a floor leader. Sure, he's a great scorer. Yes, he's a very quick and skilled defender. But he is NOT a floor leader. Might he become one some day? Sure, but by the time it happened, how old would Dirk have been? Would the increase in his productivity have been offset by the decrease in Dirk's productivity? Bottom line, I think when this trade is viewed in the light of trying to win a title during Dirk's prime, the Kidd for Harris swap is an absolute no-brainer.

As for Diop, I see two things. First, he was a very good shotblocker and a good rebounder, but let's not act like he's irreplaceable. Perhaps the shotblocking is (for this season, at least), but there are other productive backup centers that should/could be available for the Mavericks (e.g., Kurt Thomas, P.J. Brown, etc.), and Avery has been grooming Bass all season long to be the primary backup big man in the playoffs. Who knows what Diop's role would have been in the playoffs anyway? Second, Diop was set to be a free agent this summer. Perhaps the Mavs knew that Diop would want more money than the Mavs were willing to offer. Perhaps the Mavs knew Diop already had his heart set on leaving? The point is, even if you had kept Diop here, there's no guarantee he's here beyond the 07-08 season.

Now, to the positives. Jason Kidd is no longer an all-world defender, but he is still much better defensively than most are willing to admit. All of the talk about Harris being so much better than Kidd on the defensive end baffles me somewhat. Sure, Harris is better equipped to guard quick point guards, but Harris also is prone to committing stupid fouls that put him on the bench for the majority of the first half. Harris commits almost twice as many fouls as Kidd despite playing 7 fewer minutes per game. Kidd gets a lot more respect from the referees and is much smarter defensively, and I think that will play itself out in a positive fashion for the Mavs come playoff time. Kidd is also much stronger than Harris and is better equipped to guard bigger PGs and/or SGs. While Kidd may have trouble with Parker, Nash, and Paul, he will do much better with the likes of Davis and Williams. Also, Kidd allows the Mavericks to go back to starting Terry, which helps the team become more balanced offensively and helps straighten out some of the weird rotations created by trying to bring Terry off the bench. And then there is Kidd's defensive rebounding. Sure, the team is already a strong defensive rebounding team, but now they are a dominant one. Teams better hit their first shot against the Mavs, because they are definitely going to be "one and done."

On the offensive end of the court, I think many fans are going to be shocked to see what it's like to have a real point guard running the offense. Yes, I readily admit that Kidd's scoring efficiency is atrocious compared to Harris, but that's not what we brought Kidd here to do! While Kidd is certainly enough of a threat that teams will guard him, where he revolutionizes the offense is with his passing. I think back to the scores of times this season that I've seen Dirk have to chase down an "entry" pass (often reaching as high as he can just to catch it) that leaves him 20 feet from the basket when he catches the ball. I think back to the dozens of times this season that I've seen Dirk pushed off the block before a Mavericks guard can get him the ball, negating much of the advantage he has over his defender. I envision the literally HUNDREDS of times that a pick and roll has been shut down simply by overplaying Jason Terry's right hand, and a smile involuntarily begins to break out on my face. With Kidd, all of those things will change! Overplay the right hand, and Kidd will go left and dissect you. When Kidd is throwing the entry pass, you're going to have to double, because Dirk will virtually ALWAYS receive the ball on the money. Speaking of on the money, how nice will it be to see Dampier receive a pass down low that isn't thrown below his waist? How rejuvenated will Dirk, Howard, and Terry be knowing that they don't have to create the majority of their own shots any more? Life just got a lot easier on the offensive side of the ball for all of the Maverick scorers (and non-scorers, too!).

Now, to the rotation. Here's how I see things shaking out:

Dampier 28 - Vet Center (to be signed) 15 - Bass 5
Nowitzki 36 - Bass 12
Howard 36 - George 12
Terry 20 - Stackhouse 20 - George 8
Kidd 36 - Terry 12

That's a top 8 of Kidd, Terry, Howard, Nowitzki, Damp, Stackhouse, Bass, George, with a vet center to be added. Hopefully it will be Kurt Thomas. Looks like a championship team to me!

What an incredibly exciting time to be a Mavs fan.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

An update on how the Mavericks stack up

As we approach the All-Star break, I thought it would be a good time to look at three of the key stats I watch to determine how the Mavericks stack up against the rest of the league. Here are the top 10 teams from the Sagarin ratings, with offensive and defensive efficiency rankings (pp100) and rebounding differential rankings noted:

Offense: 2nd (113.4 pp100)
Defense: 5th (105.1 pp100)
Rebounding: 3rd (+4.03)

Offense: 1st (116.1 pp100)
Defense: 11th (107.0 pp100)
Rebounding: 22nd (-2.13)

San Antonio
Offense: 6th (110.1 pp100)
Defense: 3rd (102.4 pp100)
Rebounding: 11th (+1.19)

Offense: 16th (107.5 pp100)
Defense: 1st (100.0 pp100)
Rebounding: 5th (+2.52)

Offense: 5th (111.5 pp100)
Defense: 23rd (109.0 pp100)
Rebounding: 1st (+5.74)

Offense: 4th (111.6 pp100)
Defense: 9th (105.8 pp100)
Rebounding: 12th (+0.82)

Offense: 7th (109.6 pp100)
Defense: 20th (109.0 pp100)
Rebounding: 19th (-0.96)

Offense: 21st (106.2 pp100)
Defense: 2nd (101.3 pp100)
Rebounding: 9th (+1.77)

Offense: 19th (106.5 pp100)
Defense: 4th (104.2 pp100)
Rebounding: 4th (+3.72)

Offense: 3rd (112.8 pp100)
Defense: 28th (113.1 pp100)
Rebounding: 24th (-2.44)

As you can see, the Mavericks are ranked in the top 5 in all 3 major categories, and they are the only team ranked in the top 10 in all 3 categories. Here is a look at how the teams would be ranked by their "golf" scores (adding the three rankings together for a total score):

Dallas - 10
San Antonio - 20
Houston - 22
Detroit - 25
Cleveland - 27
Utah - 29
Chicago - 32
Phoenix - 34
LAL - 46
Washington - 55

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Are the Mavericks Becoming a Dominant Defensive Team?

Last year, the Mavericks were a good, not great, defensive team that was excellent offensively and very good on the glass. In fact, the numbers show that the 2002-2003 WCF finalist team was actually better in terms of defensive efficiency than the 2005-2006 squad that went to the Finals. Some of that had to do with the introduction of zone defenses into the league and the early dominance of Shawn Bradley as the anchor of the Mavs' zone defense, but the point is that no one would have confused last year's Mavericks squad with a dominant defensive team. But what about this year's team? Here are some pertinent numbers:

Season numbers
defensive efficiency: 103.5 pp100
opp. FG%: .447
opp. PPG: 91.9

Since 0-4 start
defensive efficiency: 101.1 pp100
opp. FG%: .436
opp. PPG: 90.2

Last 20 games
defensive efficiency: 99.3 pp100
opp. FG%: .429
opp. PPG: 88.7

Last 10 games
defensive efficiency: 98.3 pp100
opp. FG%: .431
opp. PPG: 86.3

These numbers suggest to me that the Mavericks are really growing into an excellent defensive team. Their defensive efficiency is progressing as the season wears on, and they are really applying the clamps to opponents over the past 20 games or so. If they can continue to defend in the 100-102 pp100 range, they are going to be odds-on favorites to win the title.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

How do the Mavericks stack up so far?

We are 25 games into the regular season, so I thought that it would be a good time to gauge where the Mavericks stand in comparison to the rest of the league. As many of you know, my preferred method of tracking offensive, defensive and rebounding play is to look at the offensive and defensive efficiency stats (points per 100 possessions) and rebounding differential.

This is a look at the top 10 teams in the league (as per Sagarin) and how they rank:

1. San Antonio
Offense - 3rd (111.3 pp100)
Defense - 2nd (100.4 pp100)
Rebounding - 9th (+2.0)
2. Dallas
Offense - 7th (110.7 pp100)
Defense - 6th (104.8 pp100)
Rebounding - 6th (+3.12)
3. Phoenix
Offense - 1st (114.1 pp100)
Defense - 11th (106.5 pp100)
Rebounding - 23rd (-2.17)
4. Utah

Offense - 6th (110.9 pp100)
Defense - 16th (107.0 pp100)
Rebounding - 1st (+8.29)
5. Houston
Offense - 20th (105.1 pp100)
Defense - 1st (99.8 pp100)
Rebounding - 3rd (+4.62)
6. LA Lakers
Offense - 9th (109.6 pp100)
Defense - 12th (106.6 pp100)
Rebounding - 12th (+0.62)
7. Chicago
Offense - 10th (108.6 pp100)
Defense - 3rd (102.8 pp100)
Rebounding - 7th (+2.95)
8. Detroit
Offense - 2nd (111.7 pp100)
Defense - 21st (108.0 pp100)
Rebounding - 14th (+0.43)
9. Denver
Offense - 5th (111.0 pp100)
Defense - 17th (107.1 pp100)
Rebounding - 11th (+1.54)
10. Minnesota
Offense - 28th (102.9 pp100)
Defense - 4th (103.4 pp100)
Rebounding - 22nd (-1.95)

As you can see, San Antonio, Dallas, and Chicago are the only 3 teams which rank in the top 10 in all 3 major statistical categories. One other method which TMavFan at LMF inspired me to use is to add all 3 rankings and come up with a composite score, with the lowest number being the best, like golf. Here's how the teams rank using that method:

1. San Antonio - 14
2. Dallas - 19
3. Chicago - 20
4. Utah - 23
5. Houston - 24
6. Denver - 33
7. LA Lakers - 33
8. Phoenix - 35
9. Detroit - 37
10. Minnesota - 54

From a Dallas fan's perspective, I find these numbers encouraging. The Mavs are probably as well-rounded as they've ever been, and they are dangerously close to being in the top 5 in all 3 categories. Of course, the numbers also suggest that the Spurs may have an even better team than last year, so if you are a pessimist you have to be worried about that. Still, I'd say the Mavs are right about where they need to be at this point in the season. If they end up in the top 5 in all 3 categories by season's end, I'll be feeling VERY good about a title run.